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BMW 320Si – a hidden pearl

3-Series | November 11th, 2008 by 8
BMW 320Si photos

Since late 2005, when BMW announced it’s new E90 entrant for the World Touring Car, Championship(WTCC), I’ve  been enamoured by the BMW 320Si as BMW …

Since late 2005, when BMW announced it’s new E90 entrant for the World Touring Car, Championship(WTCC), I’ve  been enamoured by the BMW 320Si as BMW had to homologate the car by producing 2,600 road-going versions to compete. A lucky few in countries outside the U.S.(typical) were able to snatch up the low production series cars when they were first sold.

While the 320Si is only a 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine, it produces 175 horsepower (275 horsepower in full race spec) and comes without Valvetronic as it limits the revving and performance capabilities of the engine. Even better, the engine was hand-built in the United Kingdom in the same BMW engine plant that also builds the engines for the BMW-Sauber Formula One program.

The 320Si came in sedan(saloon) form only and could only be purchased with a manual transmission. The sedan was decked out with the then-new M Sport body kit and custom 18 inch Style 216 wheels – straight off of it’s race car brethren. The major difference from the race-spec 320Si body and road-going version was the widebody kit front and back – and the racing livery along the sides!

About a year ago, while researching the WTCC 320Si, I came across a BMW 320Si by way of Japan. Yoshina, the owner, was one of the few lucky Japanese BMW fans to import a left-hand drive 2006 E90 320Si. That’s impressive to even import a car but he went many, many steps beyond that and decided to essentially build a road-going, partially racing-spec 320Si.

His car started life as a stock Alpine White E90 320Si, but as you can see, it has evolved into much more as no expense nor detail has been missed in converting a stock road car into a road car/race car like no other. This car is truly unique and the attention paid and time spent is impressive! Aside from a widebody kit and some of the interior features, it looks identical to a WTCC-spec 320Si – stripes, advertisements and all along the body. I was so impressed by this vehicle that I contacted the owner, Yoshina, and asked to interview him about his car which I’ve included below.

Interestingly enough, Yoshina also operates a Japanese BMW Blog and car sites here and here. He’s taken some fantastic pictures of his car, as well as other bimmers and Japan in general, in his Flickr account so I recommend you take the time to check those out! The pictures were taken with a Nikon D200 for those of you interested.

Andrew:

How many different BMW’s have you owned? What was your favorite that youhave owned?

Yoshina:

I have owned five BMWs until now.

1992 BMW 325i Sedan(E36) RHD 5AT (retired)
1992 BMW 325is Sedan(E36) LHD 5MT (retired)
1994 BMW M3 Coupe(E36) LHD 5MT (retired)
2004 BMW MINI Cooper Convertible RHD 5MT(current)
2006 BMW 320si (E90) LHD 6MT(current)

Of course, my favorite BMW is 320si.

Andrew:
What do you enjoy about owning a BMW?

Yoshina:
I enjoy driving BMW. And I enjoy thinking about tune up BMW, too!

Andrew:
How difficult was the process of importing a left-hand drive BMW 320Si to Japan? The E90 320Si was not originally sold in Japan, correct?

Yoshina:
320si was not sold in Japan. So, I and Proshop had to import by ourselves. Import took time – 5 month.

Andrew:
What are all of the modifications you’ve made to your 320Si? How many man-hours did it take to bring it to the state we see it in today?

Yoshina:
My 320si’s modifications list is below.

Front Spoiler : WTCC Look Custom-made by STUDIE
Rear Diffuser : WTCC Look Custom-made by STUDIE
Rear Wing : BMW Motorsport Genuine Parts
Trung Hook : BMW Motorsport Genuine Parts
Bonnet Pin : BMW Motorsport Genuine Parts
Tow Strap : SCHROTH / Towing Strap
Front Lights : Philips / Ultinon D1S 6000K Flashwhite
Front Lights : PIAA / LED Maker
Rear Lights : Genuie Blackline Rear Lights
Seats : Recaro / SP-G III
Harness Belts : SCHROTH / Profi 3-FE Push Backle asm
Steering Wheel : MOMO / Modle 80 35φ
Steering Boss :Night-Pager / LongBoss Spacer GTC
Shift Knob : BMW Motorsport Genuine Parts
Meter : STACK Full sweep electric gauge
Room Mirror : BMW Motorsport Genuine Parts
Rollcages : WTCC Look Custom-made by SAITO Rollcage
Rollbar Pad : BSCI / FIA 8857-2001 TypeA
Window Net : OMP
Fire extinguisher : FEV / AFFF1750R
Navigation System : Panasonic / Strada CN-HDS940TD
Audio : Studie / Studie Sound System
Muffler : WTCC Look Custom-made by ARQRAY
Air Cleaner : GroupM / Ram Air Sysytem
Computer : Grad imp / Hyper Sprint Booster
Ignition : OkadaProjects / Plasma Direct Ignition
Suspension : BILSTEIN / BPS Suspension Kit
Suspension : COX + Studie / YAMAHA Body Damper
Tire : Yokohama Rubber / ADVAN Neova Front : 225/40R18 Rear : 255/35R18

This project took in about two years. I requested this project from many people and shops.

Andrew:

What’s your favorite modification you’ve made on the 320Si?

Yoshina:
WTCC Look Custom-made – Front Spoiler, Muffler and Rollcage.

Andrew:

Even with all of your modifications to your 320Si, do you still try to use it as a car for your daily commute to work?

Yoshina:
I drive MINI Convertible, usually. But I go to office by 320si occasionally.

Andrew:

If so, do you find it difficult to try and use a car with a full rollcage as a daily driver?

Yoshina:
I get used to ride on 320si, it is easy.

Andrew:

In some of your albums, you have pictures of the 320Si cruising around the Fuji circuit. How does the car perform on the car now that you’ve modified it compared to when it was stock? Have you reduced those lap times? :-)

Yoshina:
Everyplace, on track or on road, I drive 320si slowly. ;-) I am not necessarily good at driving.

Andrew:

Some people might say you could have bought a BMW 335i or M3 instead for the money you’ve put into your 320Si. What is your response to them? What inspired you to put so much time and effort into your car compared to buying something faster?

Yoshina:
I spend money which can buy M3, for 320si. This is my hobby, life work. Every one can buy M3. However, 320si is different. I had M3 before, but my 320si is more fun than M3. :-)

Andrew:

What originally inspired you to create a road-going replica of the 2006 BMW WTCC car? Are you a big fan of the WTCC as well?

Yoshina:
I love BMW Motorsport. I had E36-325i before, so I loved BMW race car – BTCC, JTCC touring car. And I love WTCC too.

I have fan site for WTCC in Japan. http://www.wtccfan.com/

Andrew:

You’ve already owned an impressive group of BMW’s, do you have plans in
the future to possibly move on to another BMW to modify and “make it your own?”

Yoshina:
I do not want to buy another BMW now. But I will buy new BMW someday. If I get new BMW, I will customize it.

Andrew:

As a BMW Blogger, what do you think of BMW’s recent concepts such as the CS Concept X1 or future PAS models?

Yoshina:
My favorite is not practical use cars, such as X models and PAS model. I like sports car. for example, M1 Hommage and GINA Light Visionary Model.

Andrew:

What do you think about the news that BMW has canceled plans to make a production version of the CS Concept?

Yoshina:

I very regret that Concept CS base production model was canceled. And E92-M3 CSL too. I think that it is unavoidable judgment in a global financial crisis.

Andrew:

Are there any particular BMW’s you’d like to see come to Japan in the future?

Yoshina:
I want to be also able to choose a BMW  with a manual transmission in all grades.

Andrew:

Considering BMW’s push for “Efficient Drive” and more hybrid-type vehicles, what do you think this would do to the way BMW’s drive? Would it keep you from wanting to buy another BMW if they became hybrids?

Yoshina:
I believe that hybrid BMW gives us happy driving. I will not buy any cars other than BMW.

I want to specially thank Yoshina for taking the time and energy to help me with this interview and I encourage you all to check out his Flickr account linked above for great photos of his and many other BMW’s from Japan! For our readers who can read Japanese, you should also check out his BMW blog linked above!

If you think you have a specially modified BMW or car that should possibly be profiled, feel free to email us and we may feature it!

  • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

    Great interview and story Andrew!

  • Gragop

    @Horatiu B.:

    Thanks! Yoshina has a great car!

  • Clara

    Great article, Andrew.

    Besides the hp, are there any other specs? The 2.0 4-banger seems like an odd engine choice for racing, even at 275hp; I’d think you’d want the 3.0 six for enough power. Maybe the weight and efficiency savings are significant?

  • Gragop

    @Clara: Thanks, Clara! Actually the 2.0 liter 4 cylinder is due to WTCC requirements that the engine displacement cannot exceed 2.0 liters. That said, the E46 320i Touring car ran a 2.0L inline six cylinder engine. When BMW moved to the E90 platform they developed the 4 cylinder instead to save weight on the engine. I think, despite weight saving techniques, BMW wouldn’t be able to save weight without dropping some cylinders.

  • Perry Giannopoulos

    Hi to all 320si fans. I have a 2006 car, ok I understand all that about the rules of WTCC racing but we are not racing in the WTCC, we are driving a BMW which looks fast, comes with suspension and wheel set up for higher HP expectations but I feel embarashed in the steet as I am being passed by some realy inferior cars. I did not see any worthwhile engine modifications in Yoshima’s article as he admits he does not like to drive fast. Help me out guys, its such a nice car and I dont know how to get it to go faster, I am even thinking of 335i engine transplant but that will make it into a bastard. Any succesful improvements with bolt on supercharghers out there, or even mapping, intake, piston and camshaft replacements, as long as we keep the basic engine block. Thanking you in advance, lets improve this baby before I get bored with it.

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